IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was in Pakistani Army’s custody for more than 50 hours after his MiG 21 was downed during a dogfight with a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet on Wednesday.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has reportedly told the Indian Air Force authorities that though he was not physically tortured by the Pakistanis during the time he was in their custody, but he was made to go thorugh a lot of mental harassment, news agency ANI quoted sources as saying.
IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was in Pakistani Army’s custody for more than 50 hours after his MiG 21 was downed during a dogfight with a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet on Wednesday. The dogfight took place in Pakistani airspace after Indian fighter jets were scrambled to respond against a large package of Pakistani fighter jets ingressing into Indian airspace with a view to attacking Indian military installations.
Before ejecting from his badly damaged MiG 21, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthamanhad managed to shoot down the F-16 fighter jet. Abhinandan had landed in Pakistani territory and was caught and initially beaten up by some locals before two Pakistani army soldiers could take him into their custody.
After spending nearly 58 hours in the custody of the Pakistan Army, Wing Commander Abhinandan was repatriated to India late on Friday evening at the Wagah-Attari Border near Amritsar.
Upon his return to India, he was shifted to Delhi overnight after a preliminary examination. He is being kept under medical observation at the Air Force Central Medical Establishment at Subroto Park in New Delhi.
Upon reaching Delhi he met his family for a few minutes before being taken for a medical check up and counselling. He was met by Indian Air Force chief Air Marshal BS Dhanoa early on Saturday morning. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also met Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman later in the day.
Before he can get back inside the cockpit of a fighter jet, Wing Commander Abhinandan will have to undergo a thorough fitness check. As part of that he is currently going through a process called “cooling down”, an exercise that is likely to continue for a few days. Under this, he will be kept under medical observation, counselled as well as subjected to numerous medical and fitness tests. The top priority, according to the air force sources, is to bring his health back to normal.
Ahead of his repatriation to India, the Border Security Force (BSF), which mans the border at Attari, cancelled the beating retreat.
Within hours of being downed and captured by the Pakistan army, Abhinandan had become the human face of the conflict between India and Pakistan with several videos of his going viral on social media. While in one video he can be seen being beaten by some locals, another video shows him standing with blindfolds on his eyes at what appears to be a military installation. A third video showed him having a cup of tea while answering some questions being asked by a ‘Major’ of the Pakistani Army.
A fourth and last, but heavily doctored propaganda video was released by the DGISPR barely hours before his repatriation.
Abhinandan’s repatriation was announced by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the national assembly and he had referred to it as a “peace gesture”.